BALTIMORE (WJZ) —The former Baltimore detective whose interaction with drug dealers exposed one of the biggest police corruption scandals in the city’s history will serve ten years in federal prison for his crimes.
Judge Catherine Blake handed down the sentence Tuesday morning. The ten-year sentence was the government’s recommendation and gave Gondo a break for his government testimony.
Gondo faced a maximum of 60 years with sentencing guidelines calling for 15 to 19 years because of his criminal history.
Gondo spoke briefly in court. “I’m truly remorseful. I apologize to the citizens of Baltimore,” he said.
His attorney Warren Brown called the scandal “an ugly stain” on the department. “You want to believe there’s just a few bad apples, but you begin to wonder if there’s just a few good apples,” Brown told the judge. “This was not isolated to their one unit. It was standard operating procedure for many of these units in the city.“
Gondo was the crucial link that broke the case.
As Harford County authorities were investigating a deadly overdose three years ago, they tracked down the supply chain—a Baltimore drug crew.
On wiretaps, they discovered Gondo was connected to the dealers and childhood friends with one of them—Kyle Wells.
They then found he was trying to protect them from his Gun Trace Task Force sergeant Wayne Jenkins, who frequently robbed drug dealers of cash and narcotics to line his own pockets.
Jenkins is serving a 25-year sentence. Once lauded by the department for getting guns off the streets, he admitted to selling hundreds of thousands of dollars in narcotics—including drugs looted from West Baltimore pharmacies in the riots following Freddie Gray’s death.
“Nothing can justify what these officers were doing,” Brown said.
He said after getting caught, Gondo became a “fly on the wall” for the government.
Brown said Gondo’s sister had to move out of her home because of security concerns after her brother’s testimony.
“It was greed,” Brown said of the motive. He said the GTTF’s victims were people who would never go to the cops and reveal they were robbed.
And Brown said others in the police department looked the other way.
“This type of thing doesn’t go on unless the higher-ups know about it,” Brown said.
He said he doesn’t think the scandal is over. “Other individuals have not been brought before the court.”
Maryland’s U.S. Attorney Robert Hur would not reveal more about what will happen next. “We’ll have to see,” Hur said.
He told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren he was encouraged by comments from Baltimore’s new police commissioner-designee Michael Harrison that corruption would not be tolerated on the department. “These prosecutions are extraordinarily painful for the city of Baltimore, but they’re absolutely necessary,“ he said.
“A strong, ethical police force is critical to give Baltimore the safety and security it deserves,” Hur said.
Jemell Rayam, Gondo’s former partner, will be sentenced in March.
Last year, Gondo testified about a 2009 incident where Rayam shot and killed a man while on duty. Rayam was cleared of any wrongdoing, but Gondo said Rayam told him about the incident, “F*** it. I just didn’t want to chase him.” He also said a BPD supervisor coached Rayam about what to say to avoid prosecution.
During that same testimony, Gondo said he stole more than $200,000 over the past decade.
He also filled out fraudulent overtime slips. Gondo testified the GTTF sometimes would not even start work until after their assigned shifts were over, earning their regular salary plus overtime.
“By 5 or 6 o’clock, we’re all gone, but we’re still on the clock,” he said.
Gondo claimed he never complained about Sgt. Jenkins because of retribution fears.
“Wayne knew so many people in command, I’d have been blackballed,” Gondo said.
Gondo described robbing Ronald and Nancy Hamilton of $20,000 inside their Westminster home and splitting the money with other members of the GTTF at a Canton bar.
He said Sgt. Jenkins told the group, “Guys, we don’t have to be greedy. We can just do this three times a year and get three big ones.”
Gondo also testified that Detective Sean Suiter, who was killed on the job in 2017, was involved in some of the thefts Gondo committed a decade ago within another squad he was a part of at that time.
Suiter was shot just hours before he was set to testify before a grand jury in the GTTF corruption case. His family and several co-workers vehemently denied Suiter’s involvement in any crimes.
At Gondo’s sentencing, Judge Blake said his actions undermined faith in police. “It is still my hope and opinion most officers are doing their best.”
Prosecutor Leo Wise told the judge earlier, “If we can’t expect sworn police officers to respect the law, I think we’re truly lost.”